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Ontario’s bio succinic acid plant doubles capacity, nets grant

BioAmber Inc. has secured a $7-million grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) for what will be world's largest facility for bio-based succinic acid plant when completed in 2015.


BioAmber Inc. has secured a $7-million grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) for what will be world’s largest facility for bio-based succinic acid plant when completed in 2015.

The grant for the facility in Sarnia, Ontario, comes in addition to the $7.5 million grant that SDTC provided to BioAmber in 2012, as well as a recent $20-million commercial loan from a financial consortium led by Export Development Canada and including Farm Credit Canada and Comerica Bank.   

Bioamber Sarnia Plant SketchThe estimated cost of the facility has jumped from $80 million to $135 million. BioAmber secured additional funding after expanding the scope of the Sarnia plant, nearly doubling the production capacity from 17,000 metric tons to 30,000 metric tons per year, and increasing the number of jobs that will be created.  

“Commercializing an innovative, clean technology that is cost disruptive to the petrochemical industry is a major undertaking, and it needs government support to become a reality,” says Mike Hartmann, executive VP of BioAmber. “We are making chemicals cleaner and cheaper than the petrochemical route, and this will translate into lasting environmental and economic benefits for Canada.”

Succinic acid is most often used in the food and beverage industry, primarily as an acidity regulator. It’s also used in pharmaceuticals. Global production is estimated at 16,000 to 30,000 tonnes a year, with an annual growth rate of 10 per cent. While the common industrial scale production method of succinic acid was petroleum derived, companies like BioAmber and BASF are looking to renewable plant based feedstocks.   

The SDTC grant also supports the switch to BioAmber’s second-generation yeast, which proved to be significantly more cost competitive than the bacteria-based fermentation originally designed to operate in Sarnia. 

BioAmber has signed 19 supply and distribution agreements and eight memorandums of understanding, which collectively represent demand that exceeds the plant’s annual capacity.


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